Enhancing Procure-to-Pay Processing for Tolling Agencies

Almost everyone has driven through a tolling station, often without even realizing when you entered and when you exited. We expect the use to be a positive experience in our daily transits.

In this document, we will explore what a tolling agency is and what are the unique challenges within their procure to pay processing.

A tolling agency is an entity empowered by law to control and collect tolls related to a specific service…in this case traverse of a road, and as well as providing ancillary services.

Navigating Procurement Challenges in Tolling Agencies

In addition to collection of toll revenue, the back-office functions are the same as most entities. They must procure goods and services necessary to support the tolling agency activities. As with most business verticals, they have several procure to pay (P2P) challenges that are applicable to tolling agencies. For example:

  1. Many purchase orders (POs) reference existing contracts, which adds complexity to the procurement process.
  2. Blanket POs, which cover multiple transactions under one purchase order, are common in tolling agencies.
  3. Service POs, which are used to procure services rather than goods, are frequently encountered.
  4. Back-office transactions must maintain visibility and transparency to the public, as tolling agencies are accountable to the communities they serve.
  5. Government rules and regulations strongly influence the P2P process for tolling agencies, requiring adherence to specific procedures and standards.
  6. POs and related invoices can be seasonal due to variables such as weather and vacation patterns, impacting procurement cycles.
  7. There is a potential for critical item(s) purchase requests due to weather-related emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances.
  8. Government approvals may be required for selected goods and services, adding another layer of complexity to the procurement process.
  9. Limited potential for training of requestors may result in inefficiencies or errors in the procurement process.
  10. Distributed assets, such as toll booths and infrastructure, result in complicated utility invoice processing, requiring careful management and oversight.

Exploring Unique Procurement Processing for tolling agencies:

In order to fully comprehend tolling agencies P2P processing, it is important to understand key supplier portal related processes and functionality including the following:

  • Procurement utilizes the supplier portal for distribution of RFx’s, Purchase Orders, Contracts and RFx responses.
  • Vendor Management functions accomplished utilizing the portal are vendor registration, acquisition of vendor master data and entry of supplier documents.
    • Suppliers create and maintain data and documents that are required from a compliance perspective. The system tracks changes and expiration dates. It is the Suppliers responsibility to keep their data and documents up to date.
    • In order to ensure compliance and prevent fraud, it is critical that suppliers monitor all of their users and the data submitted.
  • Invoicing – Invoice Submission, Review and Posting.
    • Invoicing occurs through “PO flip,” manual entry, OCR, and BOT retrieval from a supplier website.  Invoice type(s) determines process and approval workflows. Configurable business rules enforce institutional compliance and policy requirements.
    • Retrieval utilizing BOTS is especially useful when collecting distributed utility invoices for centralized payment.
  • Asset Management – centralized tracking of asset utility usage.
    • For entities that have numerous assets geographically dispersed, it becomes a tedious manual exercise to allocate one invoice between assets.
  • Logistics – Receive Advanced Shipment Notifications (ASNs) and Order Acknowledgements.
  • Diversity Spend Reporting – Reporting and Analytics.
    • Track Diverse Business spending for PRIME and Sub-Contractors.
  • Expense Reporting – Expense voucher submission and approvals.
    • Expense submission through a centralized portal ensures timely compliant reimbursements.
  • Chatbots – Bot provides response for invoice status inquiries and answers to other procurement questions.
    • Enable and configure chat responses for internal staff and Suppliers to interact without having to email or call. Query bots can provide information about data like the status of an invoice. Knowledge bots answer questions based on a set of knowledge base question and answer repository. Provide “Agent Chat” functionality allowing users to communicate with “live” resources.

Ticketing and Collaboration.

  • The ticketing system provides the ability to submit help desk tickets which are routed to appropriate resource(s) for issue resolution. Collaboration functionality provides communication methods with internal and external resources and audit trail.  This functionality replaces the need for emailing questions.

Technology Assisted Innovation

Tolling Agencies are continually assessing how to improve the services provided to the public. They have found utilization of a world class procure to pay solution increases process efficiencies, improves employee morale, ensures compliance with internal and external policies and regulations resulting in improved profitability. These savings are passed on to the consumer in the form of lower tolls, improved roadways, and a safer and smoother drive!

SmartDocs has deep experience in assisting tolling agencies continually improve procure to pay processes. SmartDocs solutions address P2P challenges with solutions for Supplier Portal as discussed above, Invoice Processing, Approvals, and document storage.

Specifically, SmartDocs Supplier Portal (SSP) is a cloud enterprise collaboration platform for organizations to implement an effective Procure-to-Pay (P2P) and Supply Chain eco system to work closely and effectively with all Suppliers. It provides numerous ways to streamline business processes and various interactions between an organization and its Suppliers. 

Take a few minutes to explore the SmartDocs solutions on the SAP Store or the website to learn how your tolling agencies can deliver improved service to your consumers through digital transformation of your procure to pay. While this article is focused on Tolling Agencies, SmartDocs solutions generate improvement in all industry verticals.